Keyboard Exchange International

Hammond Organ Restoration

From the founder and staff of Keyboard Exchange International

This information is provided for reference and general information purposes only. The reader is cautioned that high voltage is present within the electronic components of Hammond and Leslie equipment and electronic repairs and restoration should only be done by experienced, qualified technicians or those familiar with electronics in general. Contact us for a referral in you area.

Let us start by saying that most of the restoration work done at Keyboard Exchange International is done on Hammond B3 and Hammond C3 models. These are the models currently and historically in most demand. The same is true for Leslie model 122 and 147 and the shorter versions 142 and 145. There are other Hammonds that can sound the same as the B3 and the C3 models that are also practical to restore including models B2, C2, A-100, RT-3 and some others. For commercial purposes, we generally limit our restoration work to these models where resale value justifies the cost of the labor and material invested. An individual may choose to restore other models for sentimental reasons and we are happy to work on other tone wheel models when needed.

We have also restored models A, E, G-100, A and BA for historical purposes commissioned by museums and collectors. The X-66 model is another "specialty" instrument and was the instrument that the Hammond factory spent the most to develop. It was way ahead of its time when first introduced in the late 1960's

There are situations where restoration to original condition is most appropriate and other situations that require extensive customization based on the requirements of the owner/musician. We do both at Keyboard Exchange International and truly appreciate the flexibility and wide range of possibilities that exist for Hammond organs.

The two major components of Hammond organ restoration are 1) Electronic including electro magnetic and mechanical) and 2) cabinetry. In both areas we strive to maintain original integrity as much as possible using new vintage parts, rebuilt parts, or suitable new parts specially built and designed for the purpose. An example of this would be tube replacement. We find that tubes built for the military and still available NOS (new old stock) do an excellent job. GE manufactured many of these, which are highly desirable and reliable. (More about tube selection later) Our experience tells us American and Russian made tubes work best. We avoid tubes made in China. We would rather have a good 30-year-old tube that is used and still working correctly, than a new tube from China or of unknown origin. Avoid tubes where country of origin is not immediately available.

Topics to be covered in the future:
  • Internal and External AC wiring
  • Capacitors in preamp and on tone generator
  • Felts
  • Contact cleaning
  • Lubrication

Advise the Pastor at your church of the need for Hammond organ restoration!

Hammond Organ Old Wiring
Hammond Organ Old Wiring
Hammond Organ Old Wiring
Don't let an old, unrestored Hammond organ burn down your church, or home, due to your lack of information or negligence. We were called recently to restore a Hammond organ model C3 because the organ was "sparking" and would not play. After 50 years certain parts need to be replaced including AC wire. The old AC wire insulation has decomposed over time because it was made from rubber. Modern AC wire uses a more pliable and longer lasting vinyl covering. This is relatively easy to replace and should be done BEFORE someone gets hurt or killed and BEFORE a fire is started.

When we restore an organ the internal AC wire is the first thing we replace! We have replaced thousands of these wires but there are many more that need to be done. After we address the safety issues we focus on the audio quality issues, felt replacement and modifications. Help us keep this fine instruments alive for the next 100 years! Be responsible for saving some Hammond organs and possibly saving someone's life! This is important! If you are playing a Hammond and sometimes get a shock.....unplug the organ and contact us immediately!

Contact us for quotes or advise on what should be done and what can be done to enhance your musical experience and with safety! Contact us or a qualified technician for additional information.

Hammond B3 Wood Finish Colors

Hammond B3 Wood Finish Colors Hammond B3 wood finishes and colors are an interesting topic. Over the years the Hammond factory offered an excellent variety of wood tone finishes of superior quality. In this picture you will see examples of three wood finishes offered by the factory. Of special interest is that over the years, while the finish remanded the same, the description changed on original Hammond brochures so that the B3 in the middle might be called "Cherry wood" in one brochure and "Fruit wood" in another.

The B3 to the far left in this picture is a shade of walnut typically found on B3's in the last nine years of factory production with some furniture modifications made in 1969 and as shown here.

The B3 to the far right can be called brown mahogany, mahogany, or red walnut depending on how much red was used in the staining process and the veneer type used. It is interesting to note that the factory often mixed their veneers on the same organ and you can often find mahogany and walnut veneer on the same instrument. It was the color of stain that determined what the finish was called.

Leslie Horns With and Without Diffusers

Leslie Horns Leslie horns in the upper section of all Leslie 122 and 147 Leslie serve the very important function of creating the majority of the world famous Leslie effect and Hammond with Leslie sound! Sometimes the ends of the horn will get broken off. The number one cause of breakage is from putting a microphone too close to the horn, for those of you who would like to prevent this type of damage.

Consulting with the Hammond, Leslie factory people we are told:" The horn diffusers are used to smooth out the Tremolo sound. Without the diffusers, the horn would have a very choppy and deep tremolo effect as the horn would be very directional"

There are dozens even hundreds of small but important factors that help create a world class sounding Hammond organ with Leslie speaker. This tip of the day is just one of many factors that we address and correct here at Keyboard Exchange International when doing a complete and proper restoration.

Leslie Speaker Volume
Factory Suggested Levels

Over the years we have seen many Leslie power amps arrive at Keyboard Exchange International with the volume knobs on 10 and the owners complaining that their Leslie is distorting or the speakers have blown out. Ask yourself what would happen to my car radio if I played it on full power....10? If you are someone who puts the Leslie volume on 10, then try this with your car radio the next time you are taking a drive. The speakers in your car will not last long and it may be expensive to repair. Help us save some Leslie speakers and perhaps save your church or yourself some money, and read and follow the factory suggested volume level settings for your Leslie speaker.
Leslie Horns

Hammond Organ Restoration, Techniques and Suggestions

Hammond Organ Restoration Group

Certified Foam Free

You will see "CERTIFIED FOAM FREE" in some of the descriptions of our instruments on our Inventory page. You will also see a label on the front of each organ that says "Certified Foam Free" and you may wonder,"what does this mean?"

During the last 9 years of factory B3 and C3 production, foam strips were substituted for felt in the keyboards as a dust inhibitor. However, over the years the cheaper foam can decompose and chemically react with the fine wires that carry the tonal frequencies from the keyboards to the preamp and then on to the Leslie. This does not always happen, but it CAN happen and this is VERY bad. A musician expects to hear all the notes and tones he is playing, not a percentage of the tones that should be heard. What is worse is that the problem only gets worse over time until the organ potentially becomes worthless without major repair and expense.

Keyboard Exchange International, having observed and recognized this issue, is making the effort to remove factory installed foam from each and every organ that we restore! The reason this is important to us and our customers both, is that the foam will never be a future issue in organs purchased or restored by Keyboard Exchange International.

Organs from 1965 to 1974 do tend to sound brighter, crisper, and clearer due to factory refinements. A musician should not need to choose reliability over tonal preferences. Keyboard Exchange International has solved this problem! Consider this when you make a long term investment in a vintage Hammond organ and only buy an instrument that has been certified foam free by a reputable business.

For more technical references Google "Hammond+Foam" or contact Keyboard Exchange International for restoration and preventative maintenance quotes.

Several of our customers asked us to explain how to maintain their Hammond and Leslie so we scheduled a two day, informal seminar and provided them with some hands on experience and question and answer time. The instructional videos shown on our Hammond Organ Maintenance page are the result of people asking us to provide specific information. We plan to continue offering information so that our customers will always be well informed and so that everyone interested in Hammond organs and Leslies will be better prepared to help preserve them. We once had as a company slogan "Help Us Save the B3's"......... I think we will start using the slogan again as it now seems more appropriate than ever.

Our thanks to the guys who participated and offered their helpful suggestions and input. We all benefited from the time spend together

B-3 Percussion Modification

Hammond B3 Parts

The custom output discussed in this video can be added to YOUR B3 or to any Hammond purchased from Keyboard Exchange International!

Contact Us

221 S. Magnolia Ave.
Sanford, Fl 32771-1321
Sales Office: (407) 323-7493


We show our Hammonds with Leslies by appointment. Appointments are for our customers convenience and to insure that we will be available for you when you arrive. We request you make an appointment so that we can offer you our best attention.

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